tv John King USA CNN June 1, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
piper was head of palin's security and a bouncer press secretary in the making. watch how she handles the media onslaught. get that microphone off of me. when the media roll up, there's only one thing to do -- >> move out the window. >> reporter: jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> good for piper. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." "john king usa" starts right now. >> thanks for joining us. john king is off tonight. i'm jessica yellin. new york congressman anthony wiener says with a name like his, pranks and jokes go with the territory. and sometimes, quote, a prank is a prank. well, weiner's sticking to his story he did not send a lewd photo posted to his twitter account last weekend. he says he has hired a firm to
get to the bottom of this. he continues to insist his twitter account was hacked. the congressman says he does not want to make a federal case out of it. the congressman sat down with cnn's wolf blitzer this afternoon. >> did you send that picture to that college student in washington state? >> i did not. she says she never got it and doesn't know me. i certainly don't know her. this seems like it was a prank to make fun of my name. when you're named weiner, that happens. got 40,000-some-odd twitter followers. this seems like a prank that has an enormous amount of attention. >> this is the picture. i'm sure you've seen it by now. is this you? >> i can tell you this. we've hired a firm -- i've seen it. a firm that we've hired to try to get to the bottom of it. i can tell you this, that photos can be manipulated. photos can be of one thing. changed to look like something
else. we're going to get to the bottom of what happened. maybe jon stewart last night had it right, unfortunately. we're going to find out. this has turned into a kind of international whodunit. what it really was i think a prank. i'm treating it like a prank and trying to get back to the work i'm trying to do. i understand you want to pursue the story and we're going to try to help you best we can. >> we want to resolve it, once and for all. you would know if this is your underpants -- >> the question is -- i appreciate you continuing to flash that at me. look, i've said the best i can, that we're going to try to get to the bottom of what happened here. but, you know, i just want to caution you, you understand this, you're a pro, that photographs can be manipulated. photos can be doctored. and i want to make sure that we know for sure that what happened here. it certainly doesn't look familiar to me. but i don't want to say with certitude to you something i don't know to be the certain truth. >> you would like to get to the bottom of it. have you asked capitol hill police or new york police or fbi
or any law enforcement authority -- >> have i called -- >> -- to investigate? >> have i called the cops or fbi because someone sent spam? no. however, i did get a firm, a law firm who specializes in these things, who specialized in white collar crime. i've got someone who is -- and they're going to get someone who is an internet security expert to get to the bottom. >> you deleted some photos from your twitter account. why did you do that? >> i deleted everything -- >> have you asked some of your followers? >> from my facebook account? >> no, from your twitter account? >> no, i haven't. i was literally there tweeting about hockey. for those of you who follow my twitter feed, my bloody tivo didn't record enough time so i missed the end of the tampa bay/boston game. i'm a big hockey fan. i tweet about hockey. i see this thing pop up. i immediately delete it, okay. i immediately delete the photo. i thought i deleted -- i'm not 100% sure -- i deleted the
photo. and then without any password or anything, i was able to get into the account where this photograph was hosted somehow and i deleted that and other photographs that were in there as well, although it was nothing very controversial in there, but i deleted everything. i immediately tweeted, nope, my system has been hacked, you know, darn it. >> are you protecting anyone? >> yes. >> who? >> i'm protecting my wife who every day is waking up to these insane stories. that are getting so far from reality. you know, we've been married less than a year. to watch her watch these stories, gets crazier about what is essentially a prank, a hoax. wendy went to bed that night not batting an eye. this is a goofy thing that happened. she married a congressman. she knows a little something about living in public life. with that, goes a certain amount of, you know, aggravation. i don't think she imagined it would be this. these bizarre stories about
people connected to me by eight or nine rings of connection on social media. i'm protecting her the best i can. >> all right. we're going to leave it at that note. just to recap, you didn't send that photo to that woman in washington state. >> i did not send it to that woman. >> you're not 100% sure whether the photo is actually you. >> what i am going to say is we're doing everything we can to try to answer that question. we're doing an investigation. i want to caution you, photographs can be doctored. can be taken from one place and put in another. so that's -- i want to make it clear, this is in my view not a federal case. in my view, this is not an international conspiracy. this is a hoax. i think people should treat it that way. >> wolf blitzer join us now. wolf, it was a riveting interview. the rest of it can be seen online, i should point out. he was so frank with you. yesterday, he seemed to be obfuscating. would you take us into the room?
what happened before and after the sit-down? >> he wanted to give us the story. he did one interview with each the networks. it was basically one after the other. everybody had a little time to set up their own crews, their lights. we told them we would do it live. he said fine. originally supposed to be five or six minutes. we went closer to 20 minutes. he didn't complain at all. he wanted to get his story out. we asked him all the tough questions. not easy, as you know, jessica, for a reporter to ask those kinds of questions. but, you know, he's a congressman. it comes with the territory. he answered the questions. left some of the answers vague i should say. but he did the best he could. >> but he really did reveal more to you and answered more directly than he had in the past -- >> he denied frankly that he sent that lewd photo. >> most compelling part in the interview to me was when he spoke about a woman, his wife, who you and i both know and respect. it seemed to strike a nerve. >> they've been married for less than a year. all of us who know hu an, she's
a wonderful woman. she's been working for secretary of state hillary clinton for a long time. worked for her earlier up in the hill. certainly in the clinton campaign. it must be so hard for her to read these stories. you read "the new york post," the "new york daily news," you read some of these story, and it must be awful for her. so my heart goes out to her. clearly, it struck a nerve when i said, who are you trying to protect, and he said, i'm trying to protect my wife. >> instantly, i didn't expect that. these are public people but private people too. >> especially if you know his wife as we know her and we've known her for many years, you know, heart goes out to her. >> yeah. on social media, you know, you have almost half a million followers on twitter which dwarfs -- i think he has about 53,000. do you think this will be a turning point for how public officials use social media? >> i think it better be. he was very active. i followed him on twitt twitter -- @repweine re.
he sent us all kinds of tweets. telling us what he was doing, hockey teams or whatever. i tweet. you tweet. we all tweet. when you send out -- when i send out a tweet to my 450,000 or almost 500,000 followers, a lot of them think i'm directly sending something to them. and they establish a little personal relationship with me. and then they'll send me back replies. some of them, you know, i noticed you were wearing that tie. i think that's a sort of -- >> you write back sometimes -- >> sometimes i do but i try not to get into anything personal or anything like that. you don't want to make people crazy or anything like that. but i try to use it as a way to tell my followers on twitter what i'm doing. what they can expect to see behind the scenes in "the situation room." who's going to be on the show. give them a little advance word on that and they seem to like it. >> everybody's going to be a little more careful -- >> i think members of congress have to be really careful right now. especially in what they call the direct replies, the direct messages, to some of their
followers. >> wolf, thank you, great interview. >> thank you. >> that was wolf. you heard a very different tone fom the congressman than in his press conference from yesterday. today, he even admitted he might not have handled things as well as he should have when he first spoke about the story. here to talk about crisis management in the age of twitter and 24 hour cable tv, chris lahane, former assistant counsel to president bill clinton. and terry hot, a senior strategist for the 2000 and 2004 bush/cheney campaigns. thanks for being with us. you're both used to helping candidates, right and left, basically extricate their feet from their mouths during tough times. i have to say, i thought that congressman weiner was refreshingly candid in this interview. he admitted he didn't handle it so well yesterday so that's why he talked to wolf today. let me ask you first, do you think by speaking fairly frankly to wolf he answered questions he hadn't answered before, he put the story to rest today? >> but not soon enough and not directly enough. you only get one real chance to
set the record straight. and honestly it's got to be at the very front end of this. and you have to make enough news that you've satisfied some of the tough questions. ultimately, in this case, it's tough because he has an emotional attachment to the story. but you can't think that you can control a story like this. especially not in the age of twitter. you've got to be honest and straight forward. rip the band aid off and tell the truth from the beginning. >> or else it's too late. chris, in your view, has it happened too late? has he hurt his political career? >> look, i think he took a big step forward today. really seemed to answer the money question people were looking for. which is whether he did or did not, you know, send the photo to that particular woman. he answered directly. i agree. if he had answered this way two days ago, would not be here today even talking about this. i think potentially the way he handled it at the front end potentially created a mountain out of what may be a molehill.
this will rise or fall on the facts. assuming he answered the questions today accurately and honestly, i think this will recede into the background. if on the other hand there are issues that come up that are related to this and some of the story unravels -- and, again, i believe he did answer honestly today, but if it turns out not to be the case, you have a bigger issue on the other side. >> you're shaking your head no. >> i just think he too quickly embraced this status of a victim. i think that the american people are -- they've seen this story before unfortunately. it confirms what they believe about their politicians. and in his case, not to be able to be direct, to let the story continue to fester, at this point, i believe he thought that he controlled the story and in fact because he said he was a victim, everybody just throws up their hands and says, just one more politician. >> well, do you think he should stop talking now? is that your --
>> in this case, less is more. the story has run its course. it should have run its course days ago. he just kept thinking he could get on top of it. and he can't. >> let me ask you that chris, because he made the case that the media's made too much of this. and to be honest, he's never been a crusader on social issues. you can't argue he's been a hypocrite here, a morality hypocrite. he apparently for all evidence we've seen, he didn't break the law. so it does raise the question, is this getting too much media attention? >> well, in the grand scheme of things, given what the country and the world is facing it's unquestionable a very minor issue. i think he had a basic challenge in the first 24 hours which is that he needed to be able to answer some of these questions but if he didn't have the answers, didn't have all the information, take a day, get yourself ready, get all the facts together, and then knock it out of the park when you're ready. i think what has happened is he gave out bits and pieces over a
multiple day process. and basically threw more flames on the fire. and this became a much, much bigger story. than it really needed to be. >> we call this death by a thousand cuts. >> right. >> in this case, self-inflicted wounds. >> now, both of you have -- >> i was going to say, it's the classic example, right, finding yourself in the hole, you're supposed to stop digging, not continue to dig. >> a lot of people on capitol hill tweet. it's a new phenomenon. but this might be a cautionary tale to a lot of people. do you think this will change the way people on capitol hill tweet or use social media or should it? >> i do. i think it's going to be a wake-up call for a lot of folks. in particular, this is an issue i've been dealing with, with several of my clients in the sports world, which is really coming up with a set of established protocols and procedures. how do you friend on facebook? what are your rules? how are you going to handle tweets? who's actually doing the tweets? in some case, it's staff, in some case, it's the actual member or -- i'll analogize to a
situation that took place maybe 15 years ago, with issues with contributors who may have had issues in their backgrounds and campaigns developed comprehensive vetting processes. ultimately, when you took money you shouldn't have, you're at least able to point to a process that you tried to stop it. i think you'll see a similar process that will manifest itself with how these people communicate on social media. >> do politicians get a private life anymore? >> no, and they haven't for quite some time. in the age of twitter and facebook, they've been quick to embrace these technologies as powerful tactics for political organization but they've been slow to understand that they're entering a new world, where their privacy is -- is porous. and they shouldn't have much of an expectation. you know, all of these tactic, twitter and facebook and other social networks devices, for companies or for individuals, it has to take place in a proper
strategic context. you don't just do the tactics because they're quick and cool. you do them because they fit into a broader message, a broader point about what you're trying to achieve. if they don't, then you have to be really careful about what they can do. the unintended consequences. >> as chris is saying, everybody is beginning to develop their own strategies. >> that's right, that's right. >> interesting to follow. thank you, terry hot and chris lahane, for being with us. there is troubling news from libya tonight. pro-gadhafi forces may have started using one of international terrorism's most devastating weapons. but there are also worries about the rebels who are battling gadhafi. if nato gives them weapons, could those weapons end up in the hands of terrorists? that's next. they are the purest way to gauge success. ♪ maybe the only way to gauge success. but the most powerful thing about humble beginnings is that they are... ♪
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tonight, libyan rebels say a huge explosion outside a ben ghazi hotel was a car bomb. they call it an act of terrorism that shows the irresponsible and criminal nature of gadhafi's regime. nato has just extended its mission in libya, even though the mission's goal is still cloudy. and it doesn't help when the top u.s. general in africa is publicly worrying about weapons being shipped to the rebels ending up in the hands of terrorists outside libya. so why does the obama
administration seem to be doubling down on libya's rebels now? with us, cnn national security analyst peter bergen and national security contributor fran townsend, who is on the cia's external advisory board and has traveled in libya at the invitation of the gadhafi government in the past. fran, by extending the nato mission, is the alliance, is the administration doubling down on the libyan strategy and is the mission any clearer now to justify that? >> well, jessica, look, i think the president was very clear about u.s. support to the nato mission. the u.s. has got some unique capability they can provide and then the mission all comes under the supreme allied commander of nato who is in u.s. navy admiral, jim stavrat. all of the nations that are operating, all the forces, are under his command. so the u.s. is in pretty seriously. now, the question becomes, you know, what's going on on the
ground and how effective can it be? there are reports it is oil minister defected to italy. we heard earlier that more than 100 soldiers defected to italy. it looks like the inner circle around him is crumbling while nato continues to pound his installations. so the question is, how long will he survive as the people abandon him, around him? >> peter, your take, how significant is the defection of the oil minister in particular? is this just a sign of the crumbling political environment or is this particular minister more significant? >> i don't think he's more significant than any of the other significant ministers we've seen defect. >> even though oil is so crucial there and the ability to refine it could help the rebels if they got that expertise? >> that's true, but i mean, you've also had senior cabinet ministers in the past, closest intelligence minister to gadhafi defect. that was an even bigger deal. so, you know, i just --
defections are never a good thing for these kinds of regimes. that is the beginning of the end. >> right, so -- okay. it's a help for the rebel, clearly. fran, you've met gadhafi. clearly, a plus for the rebels. does this kind of defection have any effect on gadhafi's personal state of mind? >> no, i mean, look, i've met him, i think he's nut, he's crazy, so i don't think he's moved -- this is a man who from the very beginning of this conflict said he would rather spill his blood on libyan soil and die a martyr than leave voluntarily. so the fact is, i think the regime is crumbling. what i think that means, jessica, is that it's more likely he's going to end up martyred. there's no good end for him. if he's unwilling to leave, either nato forces wind up kill him in an air strike, his inner circle crumbles to the point that they assassinate him or it crumbles to the point they allow the rebels access so they can assassinate him. there are no positive potential outcomes for gadhafi in any of
this. >> this was startling to me. the general in charge of the u.s. african command added a twist to the nato mission by saying this. he said, quote, there is a very real concern for all the regional partners and the united states shares this concern about the proliferation of weapons from libya to other places, including those under the control of al qaeda and others. so general carter f. ham, in charge of africa command, peter, is saying that weapons going to libya could be ending up in the hands of al qaeda. do you buy it? >> i'm very skeptical of that. we've seen, you may recall, there were discussions of glimmer of al qaeda in the opposition. we still haven't seen evidence of that. there's a group called the libyan islamic fighting group once allied to al qaeda. a number of their members have shown up in the opposition. they have publicly rejected al qaeda's ideology in the past. anything can happen. there are a lot of weapons. it's an area of the world where there are a fairly virulent al qaeda affiliate, al qaeda in
the islamic maghreb. if that's the concern in this mission, it would be really over the top. this is one certain of many. it's not a very large one, in my view. >> if it would be a minor concern, why do you think they would be putting us out there right now? >> you know, i don't know. i really don't know. i just -- i don't think -- you know, it will be interesting to see what fran's view is on this. >> sort of hinting at the threat of al qaeda is a way to buy public support for more time for this nato action? >> you know, jessica, this isn't the first time we've heard this. peter just referenced that line, a glimmer of al qaeda. i think the exact words came from the nato supreme allied commander. he talked about the intelligence showing, what he referred to as flickers of al qaeda. the concern is all the groups that peter's mentioned, the lifg, clearly, they see an
opportunity in the chaos of libya. this is an opportunity for them to take advantage of that chaos and try to arm themselves and position themselves to take power there. and that's dangerous. i think that that's a legitimate concern. this is -- carter ham's statement is not the first time we've heard it. i think we've heard this now more than once from the u.s. military. >> so what's the appropriate response? if arming -- if them getting arms leads to al qaeda getting arms, how should nato react? >> i think that's why we've seen the administration, rather than arming -- arming the rebels, what they've chosen to do is provide support to the nato mission. in an organized military fashion. with allies that they have confidence in. you know, i've heard of admiral stagrita speak on this subject and quite proudly he says the europeans are executing the mission very capably and that over time he believes they'll prevail in this mission. but, you know, look, it's not going as fast as i think the military wants it nor, frank ly
as the administration would like to see it. >> pete, thanks so much. peter bergen, fran townsend, thank you. ahead, he's known for cutting government spending but why is new jersey governor chris christie now under fire for using state-owned tax-payer funded helicopter? that's next. down the hill? man: all right. we were actually thinking, maybe... we're going to hike up here, so we'll catch up with you guys. [ indistinct talking and laughter ] whew! i think it's worth it. working with a partner you can trust is always a good decision. massmutual. let our financial professionals help you reach your goals.
christie is one of their party's brightest rising stars. he's making a trip to iowa next month. although he keeps insisting he is not running for president next year. but a different kind of trip landed governor christy in hot water back in his home state. democratic lawmakers are up in arms after learning christie took a state police helicopter to his son's high school baseball game. with us now, tom defrank, who is the washington bureau chief for the "new york daily news." we asked this question -- first of all, thank you for being here. he's the tough talking, bunt cutting, austere governor of new jersey who says we all have to make sacrifices, then he high tails it out of town to make a tight deadline in the state helicopter. is this going to hurt him politically? >> i think it will. it's not about illegality, it's about appearances. when i read about this morning, what popped into my head was a very similar instance in 1991
involves johnson, who was george h.w. bush's first chief of staff. somebody leaked to my colleague, m. mcdaniel and me at "newsweek" that this man had used a white house driver to drive him 4 1/2 hours to a show in new york city. bush 41 was none too pleased. a few months later, sununu was out of there. and so it's about the appearance of impropriety. nobody's going to begrudge him going to see his son's baseball game. it's hard to imagine that that -- going there and using state assets to do that had anything to do with official business. >> he's saying everybody's got to tighten their belt a little bit. i interviewed an assembly woman from new york who has been a critic of the governor. this gives you a sense of how the democrats will go after him for this. take a listen. >>, you know, it's all about
perception, and reality, and this governor is an example of do as i say, not as i do. we, right now, are down in trenton, you know, going through budgetary items, trying to restore funding for women's health issues, for seniors for tax relief. and this governor takes a helicopter to his son's baseball game. and then to his residence to entertain donors from iowa. i don't think anyone should be able to have access to a helicopter when there's no need, there's no policy need, there's no governmental need, it's all about setting priorities, and his own personal agenda. i, quite frankly, am insulted by that. as i think the taxpayers of new jersey should be insulted by this as well. >> now, you heard her, she said, i think the state police said this cost $2,500. they would have spent it anyway. >> i've heard that for years. i've heard it from generals and admirals and presidents and vice
presidents and cabinet officers and they all say the same thing because it does have an element of truth to it, which is helicopters and aircraft have to fly a certain number of hours per month so the pilots maintain proficiency in training so that is all true, but that's a dodge that's beside the point. the real point is, is it appropriate for a government official, either federal, state or local, to use a taxpayer funded aircraft on something that clearly was not a governmental event. >> i've talked to some aides and their analysis is, look this is a guy who is a straight talker. this will blow over because he's doing big things with pension reforms and budgets at the end of the month and this will be forgotten. there are safety issue, et cetera. i do see that it will have some legs maybe if the narrative develops. do you think it effects his national reputation? >> yes, because it's one of
those things that's easily identifiable. you don't have to be a political science major or an academic dome or an electoral college expert to know that he used a government aircraft to go do something that had nothing to do with the people's business. it's one of those things that you don't have to explain it. it's just sitting there and it's obvious. i don't think it kills his presidential chances. it certainly not watergate. but i think it's a political problem for him. and i suspect maybe before it's all over he might be -- i don't know and i'm not -- >> apologizing or paying back -- >> he might be writing a little check. >> so far, no sign of it, but we'll see. he certainly probably won't be hopping on another helicopter anytime soon. >> i think this is the last time he does this for a baseball game. >> thanks so much for being with us. ahead, president obama meets with house republicans about overhauling medicare. what it means for you. that's next. [ male announcer ] every day thousands of people
welcome back. here's the latest news you need to know right now. we have drap matic pictures of this afternoon's tornado near downtown springfield, massachusetts, it's about 90 miles west of boston. a little bit ago, officials reported another tornado causing wide spread damage northeast of springfield in palmer, massachusetts. as this afternoon in joplin, missouri, the list of people
missing finally is down to zero. officials say the storm killed 134 people. in other news, this was the worst day in almost a year on wall street. the dow industrial average fell 280 points, over worries the u.s. economy is slowing down again, and over new concerns about greece's ability to pay its debts. the u.s. debt was issue number one today when house republicans met with president obama at the white house. people in that room tell cnn house budget committee chairman paul ryan directly challenged president obama, urging him to stop playing politics with medicare and start leading on the issue of entitlement reform. later, white house press secretary jake carney characterized the meeting as a frank conversation but not confrontational. our chief political analyst gloria borger has been in touch with her sources on that. >> what do they say in diplomacy, polite and frank discussion -- >> means not so friendly?
>> not so friendly. i know you'll be shocked to hear that one side was accusing the other side of playing politics on the issue of medicare and, by the way, both sides are right. the republicans play politics with the issue of medicare in the 2010 midterm elections and it cost democrats control of the house. now the democrats, remember that, and paul ryan's budget has proven to be very controversial. we did a poll that said 58% of voters oppose that republican plan. so of course, the democrats are now wondering, look, they want to get a deal to get the deficit down and to get this debt ceiling passed. but at what price? and what are they willing to do? that's a debate within the democratic party right now. >> so, you know, democrats are saying they want to reform medicare, make the necessary changes. do they want to take it on before an election? >> no. when you talk to democrats in the white house, as i did today, they say, by the way, we have already proposed a plan to change medicare.
we plan to touch providers, not beneficiaries. that was part of the president's $400 billion deficit reduction plan. but their big thing, jess, as you know, is you can't talk about entitlement reform until you put taxes on the table also. so if there's going to be any kind of a grand compromise, they say taxes have to be on the table as well. and they don't see republicans being willing to do that. >> which for republicans is a nonstarter so one side says this, the other side says this, there's no in between. >> well there isn't, but joe biden has a group of people working together to talk about it. they started talking about the "m" word, "medicare," but the question is, again, are taxes on the table? we've heard senate republicans, some of them, say you have to put taxes in the mix. >> tax reform. >> right. >> not tax cuts? >> well, tax reform, but that could mean corporate tax reform, personal tax reform, change the tax rates. that could all be part of the deal. >> the other big discussion is over the debt limit.
>> right. >> so what are you hearing about where that discussion stands? >> we had a stunt yesterday in congress where there was a vote. and -- to raise the debt limit without having deficit reduction accompany it. and everybody knew it was going to fail. so what was that about? just a stunt, right? i think people believe that in the end you are going to get the debt ceiling raised, but it is going to have to be accompanied by some kind of deficit reduction. at this point, i don't see any grand compromise in the works of serious entitlement reform, along with serious tax reform, until after the 2012 election but let's face it, they've got to raise the debt ceiling. they know it, they'll find a way to do it in the 11th hour, right? >> that's the way this town seems to work. >> absolutely. >> all right, gloria, thank you. >> sure. coming up, what historic sites did sarah palin's one nation bus tour stop at today?
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donald trump last night, today, palin only went down the street for meetings with fox news officials at their offices in midto midtown manhattan. palin says now she's off to boston and new hampshire. joining us is michael crowley -- crawley, i always mess it up. i'm sorry about that. >> thanks for having me. >> i know you have covered her. i'm curious, she's acting like a candidate, although it's certainly a new kind of one. do you think she's going to run? >> i think we can't know. i wouldn't be surprised if she didn't know. i think she can jump in this race later than other candidates. she has so much name recognition. like say a tim pawlenty who's trying to introduce himself. >> let me play you a sound bite with her. this was her talking about -- i think it was her new hampshire. >> we talked about specific candidates and potential candidates and kind of just what our perception was of each of
these folks. it was interesting, yeah. kind of on the same page there. they're special but not just because -- they have a certain date of a primary election, you know. they're special because they are american and they -- obviously, they want jobs. they want safety in their communities. they want strong national defense. they want the same things everybody else wants. i don't know. i guess it's the nonpolitician in me not looking at a new hampshire voter any differently just because they have, you know, an earlier primary than somebody else. >> so that was her talking about new hampshire voters after she was visiting with donald trump. we'll get to the donald trump part in a minute. how does all this attention on her affect the rest of the field? >> i think it's got to be quite frustrating for these other candidates that have been trying to get some traction. i mentioned pa lenty. so tim pawlenty announced his campaign early last week.
it was his big kickoff. he's been trying to get a lot of coverage and a lot of insiders think pawlenty could be sort of the alternative to mitt romney. but he's really not taking off. it doesn't help him to have someone like palin suck up all the media attention. tomorrow mitt romney's going to be announcing his own candidacy formally. he's going to be competing with palin for headlines. so i think it's frustrating for other candidates who say, are you in or are you out? >> i heard this counterintuesite logic, the fact that palin's getting so much media attention actually helped people like pawlenty because tea party activists will be so angry about the current field who have announced like pawlenty, romney, gingrich, and because you have a palin out there, it means the tea party has a candidate potentially who satisfies them so they won't be complaining about the other guys. does that make sense? >> these things are so hard to predict. there's so many different scenarios. i really think for some of the
candidates trying to break through, john huntsman, the former ambassador, is the other one. they need a little more time in the sun. they need people talking about them. they don't need -- what palin does is start a conversation about, gee, this field is lacking, people need something else, something's missing, and that awful july indirectly reflects really badly on those guys. >> but these days, gearing up for republican presidential campaign looks a lot like just generating a lot of publicity to launch a book tour, get more attention. can we know? >> i think it's a frustrating thing for a lot of americans is that presidential campaigns have become this grand reality show and you can't tell who's in it for profit and book deals and just name recognition. now a days, some people join think i'll get one or the other, either run the country and have the nuclear codes or have a talk show on a cable network. maybe that's fine but you can't quite be sure what the motives are these days. >> there was a report today -- i have to say i didn't see it myself but she tweeted out she visited the statute of liberty,
not statue, s-a-t-u-e. do those things matter, or is it okay, she has mystiques? >> i think for the people who admire her and support he they don't mind that stuff. they used to say that george bush's admirers kind of liked the way he would step on his own syntax because it made him seem like a regular guy. i think for the majority of americans who don't really have a lot of respect for her or don't think she's qualified to be president, it doesn't help her. i think she would do well to change her image with those people. for her core fan base, think they and could of love it. >> all right. thank you for being here. see a lot more of you this political year. >> thank you. next, the power of a picture. the images that are shaking one of the middle east's most brutal like ecopia tires... even making parts for solar panels that harness the sun's energy...
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demonstration april 29 with his father when according to activists, syrian security forces opened fire. the two were separated. the next time hamza's parents saw him again was when they recovered his corpse. and it was according to activists people who had spoken to the family and video posted to youtube horrifically mutilated. cnn could not independently verify the account of what happened to hamza, nor the authenticity of this video, but it shows the child bloated, face purple. it shows various bruisings to his body. bullet wounds to his torso. most shocking of all, his genitals were mutilated. activists have been saying the syrian regime deliberately released the young boy's family back to his body to send a message. the message being there are absolutely no red lines when it came to the length the regime would go to to silence voices of dissense. in response to this video circulating wildly, the regime on tuesday broadcast a segment where it had a medical examiner
refuting the allegations of torture, saying there were no such markings on the child's body. stating that the discoloration and the bloating was due to the body decomposing. syrian state tv then aired a statement by a man it identified as being the boy's father, saying he had met with the syrian president and in the statement the identified man says the syrian president is the best president the country has ever had and he is very happy with the pace of reforms and the statements made by the president. activists believed that the man was, in fact, hamza's father, but that statement came after the family was threatened. jessica. >> thank you, and to discuss this further, cnn's hala gorani who has reported extensively from the middle east. the australian foreign minister wants assad referred to the international courts. how likely is that? >> very unlikely. two permanent members of the
security council, russia and china, have already said they would not support a resolution condemning syria for its crackdown on protesters. and by extension, we can read into that, they would not support either any referral to the international criminal court. bashar assad's referral to that court. you have a division here among international members of the u.n. security council and you have a division when it comes to china and russia. on the one hand. and europe on the other. that wants this type of resolution voted on at the u.n. security council. it wouldn't be the same type of resolution we saw for libya. for instance, authorizing the use of force. but it is an effort to further isolate syria diplomatically but it doesn't look like that effort will pay off for the europeans. >> unicef and human rights watch have said kids have been targeted in syria. how is hamza's horrifying death impacted the uprisings? >> it's had a galvanizing effect, jessica. in the same way, for instance,
you'll remember, during those protests in iran, after the election, nada, the image of her dying on the streets of tehran. or that fruit salesman in tunisia, who self-emulated, who ended up dying, he became a symbol for the uprising in tunisia. this young boy has become a galvanizing force. it's important to note, however, we don't have access to the country. but from what we're hearing, in syria, there's a big difference between the protest movement there and the protest movement in egypt. not as many people are taking to the streets. even though it has had a galvanizing effect, we're still seeing people out in the streets in the thousands, perhaps in the tens of thousands, not in the millions at this stage, jessica. >> you point out that it is hard to get information from there. the reporting is limited. we have heard something about an amnesty in syria today.
do you know what happened, and was anyone actually freed? >> well, we are understanding from activists, again, as you mentioned, we don't have access to syria, a few hundred were freed today. some were political prisoners. overall, the thousands that were rounded up over the last few weeks, and i should say over the last few months of the uprising in syria, are still being detained. this was an amnesty announced through degree on state television that activists say doesn't go far enough because it's not exactly an amnesty in many cases. it's just a reduction in sentence for people who have been detained for belonging to, say, banned political movements such as his muslim brother hood. >> so do you know what the next steps are to expand that kind of -- that kind of potential amnesty? >> well, these are offers of reforms. again, coming from a set of contradictory messages from the government. an offer of reform on the one hand. but then crackdowns.